Bangalore, March 1, 2018: In a surprising turn, it was not chief minister Siddaramaiah but Shantinagar MLA NA Haris who inaugurated the reconstructed Church Street on Thursday.
In an email to journalists, the Karnataka information department had said Siddaramaiah would dedicate a multi-storied vehicle parking facility at Freedom Park at 10am, newly built footpaths at 10.15, and the redone Church Street at 10.30. He was to then leave for Tumakuru district.
Because the chief minister was getting delayed, Haris was sent to open the road, a BBMP officer informed The Observer.
A crowd had gathered on Church Street, which links the swanky Brigade Road and St Mark’s Road, to witness it being reopened by the chief minister. They, instead, saw people waving Congress flags and shouting slogans in support of Siddaramaiah and Haris.
The Congress legislator is in the news because his son Mohammed Nalapad Haris allegedly assaulted a youth named Vidvat L. along with his friends at a café on the night of February 17. Haris Junior was arrested on February 19. A court will decide on his bail petition on Friday.
Asked why the MLA was there, his supporter Shaheen, 35, said: “I don’t know…, but I have come because he needs our support in this time of trouble, just as we got his support when our houses were flooded during rains. He built houses and roads for us, so all we can do is to support him.”
Many others said they didn’t know why the MLA was there.
Saajda Begum said: “We got to know that NA Haris was coming here, so we came here to see him and support him. I don’t know what he is here for, but he has been actively working for us, so must be here to announce some benefit for us.”
Work on re-laying Church Street began in February 2017. After missing several deadlines, the BBMP decided to reopen the 750-metre road on March 4. The inauguration was then advanced by three days.
Haris, under whose Shantinagar constituency Church Street falls, conducted numerous inspections of the work, the latest being on February 26.
In October 2017, the BBMP had cleared a white topping project for 29 roads with a budget of Rs 800 crore.
White topping involves covering existing asphalt concrete roads with a layer of Portland cement concrete to prevent potholes. White topped roads are said to have a longer life. The main criticism against white topped roads is that they can lead to clogged drains and flooding.
A BBMP officer who requested he not be named anonymity informed The Observer: “We must look at the larger picture where the city is getting a solution for a serious problem like potholes. It is an achievement. These roads will also help reduce accidents. Since they have a longer life, maintenance won’t be needed.”
The project is a priority of the Congress, which wants to rid Bengaluru of its potholes before the state assembly elections due to be conducted in two months.